I caught myself doing it again today. My three-year-old was sitting on the couch happily shoveling goldfish crackers into her mouth, utterly captivated by Dora the Explorer. I was looking at her, studying every delicate feature. Motherly moments such as these are few and far between amidst mounds of laundry and dirty diapers. But today when I had that second to catch my breath; I didn’t squander it. I used it to look at my beautiful baby. I felt truly grateful to be her mother and equally thankful to all the “other” special women in my life who have supported me in my parenting journey.
As someone who struggled with infertility for years after a long battle with breast cancer; I never imagined I would have the privilege of hearing another human being call me “mommy.” Despite its challenges, and there are many, parenthood should never be taken for granted. Those of us who have lost a child or struggled with infertility know what I’m talking about.
Approaching Mother’s Day, old feelings bubble up just beneath the surface. I once loathed this May celebration, anxiously waiting for it to just “be over.” I made feeble attempts to pull myself together while visiting my own mother and mother-in-law, but inside I was secretly dying. The emotional pain of a day solely devoted to the thing I wanted to be most in the world, but couldn’t, was almost unbearable.
In 2012, I was declared legally blind as a result of my cancer treatments. Thoughts of motherhood were completely put out of my mind as I began to focus on adjusting to life in a much darker world. Six months later, a trip to my doctor for what I thought was a stomach bug, revealed I was pregnant.
My husband and I had suffered multiple miscarriages over our ten-year marriage. Every doctor we had ever seen said it couldn’t happen. The doctors were wrong.
My precious miracle baby was born in February 2013. One year later, we welcomed a second daughter into our family and the concept of “Mother’s Day” took on an entirely new meaning.
The emotional highs and lows of my own infertility and subsequent health crisis has taught me when it comes to celebrating Mother’s Day; we need to think outside the box.
Yes, we should use this day to honor the women in each of our families who play a significant role in our lives – the grandmothers, aunts, and godmothers we all know and love.
But wouldn’t it be wonderful if “Mother’s Day” had a slightly broader scope of women to include?
Being a mother is so much more than giving birth to a biological child. Mothers exemplify what it means to nurture another human being. They are women who embody kindness, goodness and love.
I can think of so many “other” women, with and without children, who deserve a special remembrance on Mother’s Day. I believe when it comes to being a mother, sometimes the “m” is silent.
Think of the “Other” Women
Honor Your Surrogate Family: You don’t necessarily need to be related by blood to be considered family. Honor those women you can truly count on in times of joy and trial. These ladies play a supporting role in your children’s lives. They don’t need to be mothers themselves, but your relationship with them teaches invaluable lessons about friendship to your own children.
Thank The Villagers: They say it takes a village to raise a child and that could not be more true. Use Mother’s Day as an opportunity to say “thank you” to the people who touch your life on a daily basis. Reach out to your child’s teacher, pediatrician, or babysitter. Say thanks to those neighbors who picked you up that quart of milk during the last snowstorm or the pharmacist who helped you navigate through your baby’s first fever. These women are the backbone of your community. Including them on this special day shows their thoughtfulness has not gone unnoticed.
Pamper Expectant Mothers: Just because you have yet to give birth does not mean you are not a mother. Remember those women who are pregnant this Mother’s Day. Help them to feel special and bask in that pregnancy glow. Let them be pampered and fussed over as they prepare to meet the challenges of parenting. They too deserve to feel beautiful and special just like all the “others.”
Remember the Angels: Everyone copes with infant loss and miscarriage differently. While I would never recommend presenting a card to someone who has experienced this; take Mother’s Day as an opportunity to check in on a friend who may be having a difficult time. Offer to take them to lunch or see a movie. Don’t pressure them to attend social gatherings they may not be emotionally up for. If they decide they do want to talk about their baby or the loss they experienced, do your best to offer support. Listen to their story. You don’t need to understand it. Sometimes simply feeling heard can provide the emotional strength this woman may so desperately need. Above all, always remember that even though her child may not be physically with her; she is absolutely still a mother.
Encourage Women Who Hope: As someone who’s been there; I implore you to be kind to those women who continue to hope for children of their own this Mother’s Day. Show empathy. Be patient. Send a text. Call them. Let them feel whatever they need to feel at every moment.
If you are currently battling infertility, I can only hope my story gives you a glimmer of hope in your journey.
Never give up. Have faith and keep believing that you can defy the odds. Trust me, there is nothing better than proving the medical community wrong!
And if you’ve decided to abandon the idea of having your own biological child, consider adoption or surrogacy. There are so many ways to become a mother; explore every feasible option before making a final decision. Only you know what’s best for you and your family. Listen to your heart and you will find the path that’s meant for you.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the “others” out there – the ones who touch our daily lives, those currently carrying their babies, mothers to angels and the women who commit to hope.